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FieldTurf USA is raking it in despite years of selling fake grass that quickly clumps up and falls apart.
The company has admitted to installing defective turf fields around the country from 2006 to 2011.
VOSD’s Ashly McGlone reviewed a mass of public records and found that more than 20 of FieldTurf’s failed fields were installed here in San Diego County. Local schools have paid the Canadian company more than $33 million over the last decade, records show.
Schools elsewhere have filed lawsuits against the well-known turf giant. But in San Diego County, McGlone found that while some local schools have simply let their defective fields decline, others have resorted to paying the Canadian company more taxpayer dollars to replace the faulty turf with a better product even though the fields were still under warranty.
Records revealed that the company used the failing fields as an opportunity to sell the schools on special upgrade offers.
“Without much pushback from public school officials, taxpayers have been left holding the bag for a private company’s admittedly defective product,” McGlone writes.
This is the first report in a four-part series on San Diego County’s failed turf fields and the taxpayer money funding them. If you’ve got something to say about the issue, let us know.
The Persistent Plaza de Panama Project
The City Council is set to vote today on a plan to finance the city’s share of the controversial Plaza de Panama project, which would remove cars from the park’s center and replace the asphalt lot behind the Organ Pavilion with a nearly 800-car garage.
As in the past, the city’s largely expecting to cover its bills for the project with revenue from visitors who pay to park in the garage.
And, also as in the past, Lisa Halverstadt finds the city’s independent budget analyst and project critics are questioning whether the city’s estimates will pan out, especially given a more than 70 percent spike in the overall cost estimate for the project.
Halverstadt took a deep dive into the numbers and terms of the proposed agreement with philanthropists, who are promising to kick in $30 million for the project.
• Halverstadt previously put together a handy reader’s guide detailing the Balboa Park revamp plan. She has also explained the big jump in the project’s estimated cost, from $45 million four years ago to as much as $75 million today.
• And for a real blast from the Balboa Park plan’s past, give this 2012 VOSD story focused on the role the parking garage plays in the plan’s financing a read.
Trump Tremors Continue
President-elect Donald Trump made a lot of promises about how he’s going to change, or even sever U.S.-Mexico relations.
The U-T’s Sandra Dibble checks in with many of the San Diego region’s cross-border organizations and initiatives and finds that rather than slowing down their binational efforts, some say they’ll be doubling down.
Dibble also talks to Alan Bersin of the Department of Homeland Security about three new infrastructure projects at the border that increase U.S.-Mexico collaboration. Bersin told the U-T he expects changes to come with the new Trump administration, but that binational efforts should continue.
“San Diego and Tijuana have done a good job of unifying the cross-border approach and now it needs to be expanded,” he said.
• Hundreds of San Diegans showed up to Balboa Park over the weekend to express their anti-trump sentiment. (NBC San Diego)
• More anti-Trump demonstrations are planned for Nov. 28, the kickoff date of the San Diego trial over a lawsuit by former students of the now-defunct Trump University. But if the president-elect’s lawyers get their way, the trial date will be delayed until after the presidential inauguration. (Reuters)
• The harassment of one hijab-wearing student at San Diego State University got a mention in this Associated Press roundup of American Muslims who are reeling following the election of Trump.
Faulconer’s Political Faux Pas
Last week, the Los Angeles Times put out an early guide to the 2018 California governor’s race. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was listed as one of the key players to keep an eye on, even though he’s said he’s not likely to run.
The U-T’s Michael Smolens, though, thinks Faulconer’s step up on to the statewide stage has been less than stellar. He points to local criticisms of the city’s formerly lauded Climate Action Plan, upcoming cuts in next year’s budget, the mayor’s support of the Chargers’ failed Measure C convadium proposal and other big missteps, making the case that Faulconer is actually having “a tough political year.”
Smolens also gives his “Tweet of the Week” award to VOSD’s Andrew Keatts for this query about the president-elect’s hair.
Weekend News Roundup
• San Diego police Officer Archie Buggs was shot and killed by 17-year-old gang member Jesus Cecena in 1978. The U-T reports that the state Parole Board is investigating comments made by a top aide to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis at a parole hearing last year.
• CBS Sports is back with yet another story involving anonymous Chargers ownership sources who say the team is almost definitely leaving San Diego in the wake of its badly defeated convadium proposal. The U-T’s Kevin Acee offers another take on the matter.
• There was another car crash near Chicano Park. This one comes just short of a month after four people were killed when a truck veered off the freeway and landed in the iconic Barrio Logan park.
• Fire! (U-T)
Social Media Moments
• This one photo of two very different cars parked at South Park’s Grape Street Dog Park makes me think about all kinds of deep societal things.